💊 FuturizeU incubator for African health tech; Download the new Kable Report on SSA & MENA; SK Bioscience collaborates with Serbian government
#425 | RNA shots get better; Covid consequences get worse; The world increasingly gets too hot to inhabit
Hello hello. Welcome back to a fresh new week with us at The Kable. In Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has committed to enhancing the quality of herbal products to gain global recognition and acceptance. NAFDAC has formulated guidelines for GMP in herbal medicine production, is training practitioners to familiarise them with the guidelines, and will initiate rigorous inspections of facilities to assess their preparedness. The agency is also stressing the importance of personnel qualifications, sanitary standards, and semi-automated methods to enhance product safety.
In collaboration with AstraZeneca, Futurize has launched a new health tech incubator programme called FuturizeU. Co-funded by Bristol Myers Squibb, the programme aims to nurture early-stage university startups in Africa’s healthcare sector. The hope is to cultivate solutions to the continent’s healthcare inequity and NCD challenges. The 10 selected startups are from across Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania.
The latest country to discuss healthcare cooperation with Egypt is Singapore.
In Bangladesh, the record-breaking dengue outbreak rages on. In the 24 hours till Sunday morning, at least 2,993 dengue patients were hospitalised – the highest single-day count this year.
The newest collaboration coming from Asia is one between South Korea’s SK Bioscience and the Government of Serbia. An MoU between the two established a strategic partnership in vaccine R&D, manufacturing, and commercialisation; it also involves transfer of tech and know-how for pandemic preparedness, human resource training, and more in Serbia. SK Bioscience and Frontier Biopharma have also agreed to ink a contract to collaboratively establish vaccine manufacturing facilities in Serbia.
Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical and ShapeTX have announced a multi-target collab to use AI to develop intravitreally-delivered adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) for ocular diseases – basically, novel treatments for serious eye diseases. If key milestones are reached, this deal could cross $1.5 billion in value.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s Alexion is teaming up with biotech Verge Genomics to get access to its ML-enabled drug discovery engine Converge; the partners hope to find new targets for rare neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. This four-year deal includes an upfront payment of $42 million and could earn Verge up to $840 million in milestones.
Under a collab with Samsung Bioepis, Novartis’ Sandoz has secured the rights to commercialise a generic version of J&J’s anti-inflammatory drug Stelara in the US, Canada, and most of Europe. The drug is used to treat autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
And finally, the fear of viruses jumping from animals to humans has led USAID to prematurely end a $125 million programme to identify viruses with pandemic potential.